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Ellon wind turbine plans recommended for refusal over air traffic fears

Allowing a 327-foot turbine to be erected in Aberdeenshire could interfere with radar and cause pilots to re-route mid-flight, planners have warned.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Aberdeen International Airport have raised concerns over Cardinghill Renewables’ plan.

And councillors have been urged to throw out plans for a site at Cardinghill, north of Ellon.

A report by Stephen Archer, the authority’s director of infrastructure services, said the council supports the installation of renewable energy facilities “in principle”.

He also accepted that the landscape at the site is “not considered to be as sensitive to the visual impact of turbines”.

Nonetheless, he said it was recommended the plans be refused due to fears the turbine could prove problematic for aircraft.

In a letter, a spokeswoman for the MOD said: “The MOD was consulted in November 201, and completed a full technical and operational assessment of the proposal.

“It showed that the proposed turbine would be radar line of sight to the air defence radar at Remote Radar Head Buchan.

“The operational assessment concluded that the impact of the proposed turbine in that location could not be tolerated.”

A spokeswoman for Aberdeen International Airport echoed the concerns of the MOD with regards potential interference with vital air safety technology.

In a letter to Aberdeenshire council, she said: “A turbine of 99.9 metre (327 foot) high in this location is predicted to be visible to Allanshill radar and will therefore generate unwanted returns and clutter on air traffic control display screens.

“Clutter generated in this busy area of airspace may require aircraft to re-route, adding three to four additional track miles.

“This would increase the workload for air traffic controllers and reduce their capacity for other safety-related tasks.

The turbine plans will be considered at a meeting of the council’s Formartine Area Committee next week.